Directed self-assembly of block copolymers: a tutorial review of strategies for enabling nanotechnology with soft matter
Self-assembly of soft materials is broadly considered an attractive means of generating nanoscale structures and patterns over large areas. However, the spontaneous formation of equilibrium nanostructures in response to temperature and concentration changes, for example, must be guided to yield the long-range order and orientation required for utility in a given scenario. In this review we examine directed self-assembly (DSA) of block copolymers (BCPs) as canonical examples of nanostructured soft matter systems which are additionally compelling for creating functional materials and devices. We survey well established and newly emerging DSA methods from a tutorial perspective. Special emphasis is given to exploring underlying physical phenomena, identifying prototypical BCPs that are compatible with different DSA techniques, describing experimental methods and highlighting the attractive functional properties of block copolymers overall. Finally we offer a brief perspective on some unresolved issues and future opportunities in this field.